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Traverse City’s Wineries & Vineyards: Introducing a New Field Guide

By no means are we wine experts, but…we are wine drinkers. Before moving to Traverse City, especially during travels around the country, we heard the chatter that Michigan wines didn’t stack up. That Michigan’s wine industry was more “talk” than “walk.” More gimmick than garde.

Those days are over. Today, Michigan’s winemakers, especially those in the Traverse City peninsula regions, are earning their due in the international winemaking scene.

Situated on the 45th parallel – just like Italy’s Piedmont region, France’s Rhone Valley and Bordeaux, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley  – Michigan’s top winemakers in the Traverse City area are growing in number and producing excellent wines, both red and white, at an increasing clip.

Some of the most enjoyable evenings we have experienced in Traverse City have been spent sipping on a crisp, acidic white wine soaking in a glorious sunset from a local winery patio overlooking the West Bay.

Today we are releasing our newest Field Guide: Traverse City’s Wineries & Vineyards Uncorked. Click here to visit our Field Guide page and download your copy of the Field Guide!


In this Field Guide we highlight Traverse City’s many wineries and vineyards for you so that you can experience for yourself one of the region’s top draws. We also profile a few of the area’s up-and-coming wine entrepreneurs in order to get their unique perspectives and insights about what it’s like to build a wine business from the ground up.

Here’s a sneak peek at a bit of the information you’ll find inside:

Bonobo Winery

Bonobo is one of the newest players on the Traverse City wine scene and it has quickly earned a reputation as a must-see and sip stop on any wine tour. It features one of the most beautiful tasting rooms we’ve ever stepped foot in, and the views of West Bay from the large patio are breathtaking. Looking to catch a sunset in Traverse City? Head to Bonobo. It is owned and operated by brothers Carter and Todd Oosterhouse of TLC’s Trading Spaces fame, as well as Carter’s Hollywood actress wife, Amy Smart. Renowned chef and Traverse City summer resident Mario Batali developed the winery’s tasting room menu. If you’re lucky, you may enjoy a celebrity sighting along with your Chardonnay at Bonobo.

Left Foot Charley

For a change of pace from the peninsula winery experience, visit Left Foot Charley’s tasting room at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Left Foot Charley serves hard cider and wine, and often features live music on its patio. It’s a family friendly spot, too, as there is a sandbox for the kids on the patio. We enjoy taking the kids for a hike on The Fairy Trails at the Commons, grabbing some tacos, burritos and guacamole to-go at Spanglish next door, and enjoying a casual evening eating and sipping on Left Foot Charley’s patio.

Black Star Farms

Located a couple of miles south of Suttons Bay, Black Star Farms’ distinctive inn is hard to miss driving north or south on M-22. The inn, which features beautifully appointed rooms, is nestled below a hillside of vineyards and overlooking barns and pastures. Black Star Farms provides an immersive agricultural experience on its 160-acre property, which includes stables, gardens, hiking trails and lots of animals such as horses, goats, sheep, chickens and turkeys for the kids to enjoy. Not only is there a large wine tasting room for sampling red, white and sparkling wines, but the property also features a Barrel Room that offers an elevated tasting experience for wine club members and Inn guests.

Shady Lane Cellars

We love biking Traverse City’s TART Trail, especially the stretch that heads north up the Leelanau Peninsula. One of our favorite destinations just off of the TART Trail is Shady Lane Cellars. Its tasting room is in a beautifully restored chicken coop, and Shady Lane also offers a great outdoor tasting experience. You can enjoy wine, live music and a snack at the winery’s 32 foot, covered outdoor tasting pavilion which includes a patio and outdoor fireplace.

Did you know that you can bike to a number of the wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula Via the TART Trail? That many wineries offer some of the most stunning water views in town? That others are kid friendly, and even dog friendly? That some offer lodging options so you can sip and stay?

Lifeandwhim-biglittlevineyard-traversecityWe’ve detailed lots of great information about Traverse City’s wineries and vineyards for you in this Field Guide. We hope you enjoy touring Traverse City’s wine regions as much as we do. Cheers!

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